Wish by Edward Floren; Inform

Order played: 1 out of 22

This was the first game I played in the IFComp of 2007. Why was this one first? Beats me. I think it was just totally random. In previous years, I’ve used the IFComp’s handy randomiser to select the games for me, but after it giving me a truly awful game for my first one several years ago, I decided to swear off it in future. So from now on, whatever game I happen to play next is entirely random. Anyway, it was a decent enough game to start with.

As far as the storyline behind the game is concerned, it’s hard to say too much about it without giving away the twist at the end. But in brief, you’re a little girl called Sarah who is desperately looking forward to her beloved grandfather coming to stay. This is mentioned often. Heavily mentioned. In fact, the game goes to such lengths to tell me what a Wonderful Super Ace Fab Guy Sarah’s grandfather is that halfway through playing it, I could quite happily have strangled him.

It’s easily possible to render the game unfinishable. Neglect to pick up a certain item earlier in the game and you’ll find yourself unable to go back for it later on. The item in question wasn’t exactly hidden or anything like that, but I don’t recall any indication being given as to why I should take it when I first came across it so I simply wrote it off as a piece of scenery and didn’t give it a second thought. This forced a restart a few times as I had neglected to save my game up to that point. Fortunately it doesn’t take long to get back to where you were before. Even allowing for several restarts, I easily finished the game well within the two hour comp deadline.

There’s a supplied walkthrough for if you happen to get stuck, though this only happened to me when I’d missed an item and put the game into an unfinishable position. The walkthrough at least indicated to me that I’d missed the item so it was certainly helpful in that respect*. But for the most part, this is a very, very easy game. Just as well really as at one point the walkthrough advised me to TALK to someone, even though the TALK command isn’t recognised. Fortunately I was able to solve that little puzzle on my own.

  • I wasted some time before consulting the walkthrough by assuming that I could either go back for the item I needed or that it wasn’t necessary and there were alternate solutions to the puzzle that didn’t require the item. Unfortunately neither of these was the case. You do need the item and if you didn’t pick it up, then the game can’t be finished.

Most of the puzzles are nice and straightforward. There are a few of the ‘find an item, give it to someone else’ variety and others that are solved merely by having the correct item in your inventory at the time. At other times, it only seems possible to ‘solve’ puzzles by waiting several moves for them to solve themselves. Whether this actually counts as solving a puzzle, I’m not sure. It’s kind of annoying, though. If I’m trying to figure out how to solve a puzzle and the game goes ahead and does it for me, it makes me question what the point of the puzzle was in the first place. Or is the point that I’m supposed to figure out the solution before the game tells me?

The only part that gave me any problems was making a kite. This was the game’s buggiest moment. When TIE CROSS TO FABRIC won’t work but TIE FABRIC TO CROSS will, it’s a problem. It also isn’t helped by the fact that to make the cross, you need to use two other items but once the cross is made, you can’t refer to either of the items again which caused me further problems because I was trying to refer to them and the game kept hitting me with error messages about it.

Still, it wasn’t a bad little game, even if I didn’t really understand most of what was going on. My guess while playing was that it was some kind of dream or even a coma (there was a game in the IFComp last year which featured a player who was in a coma) but there was no indication of this when the game had finished. Was there some connection between the events in the game and what the game itself was about that I missed? Or did the author simply string together a number of ideas at random and just assume people wouldn’t think about them too deeply? The expected explanation at the end of the game never materialised, so I guess I’ll just have to settle for not knowing.

5 out of 10